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Architectural Reinterpretation

Lombard's excavations at Aptucxet uncovered many details which he used to reconstruct what he thought that the building would have looked like. The evidence he found and his interpretation and reproduction of the building will be examined first to attempt to understand why he emphasized the architectural features which he did. Following this will be a discussion of the alternate interpretation of the same evidence which he used and other evidence he did not. In the final conclusion it will be seen that the second, modern day interpretation is the more likely of the two, but Lombard undertook the construction of an interesting replica of what he thought was the trading house at Manamet using the same data as that used today. The only difference between the beginning point of the two recreation is that the present study began with the knowledge that all of the artifacts at the site dated to a later time period and that the house style would correspondingly be expected to reflect those present at this later time. Lombard began with the idea that the house was from the early seventeenth century and showed much Dutch influence, as a result his reconstruction stresses these characteristics.

The foundation found by Lombard is made up of two elements. The first is a large western portion and the second is an eastern portion which is much smaller. This house was 25' 3" from east to west and 27' 6" from north to south. There was at least one entrance to the house, which was located on the south side with a paved path leading up to it.

Lombard based his reconstruction essentially on three forms of evidence. The first was the seventeenth century information provided by de Rasiere when he visited the site in 1627. The second was what the actual artifacts and remains at the site had to say about the structure. The third was a comparison between the floor plan which he had at the site and existing seventeenth century houses and house depictions.

The site itself indicated how large the original house was and that it was likely that the eastern edition had been added at a later time. Lombard also found plaster with the impression of lathing and that salt marsh grass had been used for insulation. Lombard also felt that there was a simple "ogee" beading wainscot present in at least one portion of the house. It is unknown how the wainscot molding would have been preserved on the side of the boards set against the plaster. This would indicate that either the wainscot was beaded on both sides or that it was put on backwards.

A curved extension to north of the western hearth was at first thought to be an oven. Lombard noted that if it was then there would be no evidence of burning on the floor of it. This would be due to the fact that the space below the oven would have been filled with rubble. He also noticed that there appeared to be an opening for a fire door on the western edge of the feature. This would not be present in an oven. Finally after drawing to scale plans of the chimney and east and west hearths he noted that there was no space left for it.

The fact that this appears to have been a brewing cooper and not an oven was determined by Lombard due to those points noted above, but the actual reconstruction of it rested on the final piece of evidence. Lombard conducted a search of New England, Old England and Holland houses which were similar in shape to the foundations found. He felt that "If a number of contemporaneous wooden buildings could be found which had ground-floor plans similar to ours, and their superstructures were alike, we should be justified in believing that the superstructure of the Trading Post had been the same." (italics in original) (Lombard 1953:21). Lombard relied on four sources of documentary and surviving architectural examples for much of the superstructure of the house. These were :

1) John Smith's map of Bermuda 1622: one story building with ell, steep pitched roofs and few windows.

2) Peter the Greats house in Zaandam, Holland building dating to 1632, the house looked the same as the depiction on Smiths map

3) Trelawney papers, Maine Historical Societys report from June 1634 of the building of a house 40' long 18' broad large chimney with oven in each end

4) Stephen Wing House 1641 15 miles from Aptucxet, 2 rafters still in original place, although whole building has been changed much the roof pitch appeared the same as many houses in England and on Smiths map and the house in Zaandam.

Using these sources Lombard argued against a one and one half-story building with an ell on the north side, or a gambrel style roof. The reconstruction which he settled on in fact looks much like the house from Holland.

The interior chimney and hearth arrangement were modeled after a farmhouse in Rochford Hall, England, where Lombard stated that, third great migration to new world came from. The brick fireplace with wooden lintel and brick set for a brewing copper copied that from Rochford hall. Other details such as the windows and doors were based on logical assumptions and copies of surviving examples.

I find it interesting though that Lombard chose not to examine and use the evidence from some of the surviving structures in Plymouth, Massachusetts. This is not due to the fact that he did not know about them because he does mention them in his journal. In fact, I believe that the structure at the site looked more like some of the houses in Plymouth than those that Lombard used. For example, the Jabez Howland house and the Sparrow house both have floor plans which are almost identical to the one from Aptucxet. They do not have a smaller addition to the east of the main house, but the Howland house does have a full size addition located to the west of the original house. But they are two full stories high with the same size foundation.

The floor plan at the site is also very similar to archaeological examples which, of course, were not known by Lombard. This size is very comparable with the size of the John Howland house at Rocky Nook, Plymouth, Massachusetts (Figure 20). This house was 33" east to west and 26' 6" north to south (Strickland:1937). Both houses have what has been described for the Howland house as an outer and an inner room. The outer room is the main room where the hearth is located. The outer room at the Howland house measured 30' 10" X 16' 6" and the one at the ATPM house is 25' 3" X 18' 6". The hearth at the Howland house, located in the west wall, measures 13' 2 1/2" including the fireplace walls, the one at the ATPM house, located in the east wall, is 12' including a brewing copper or water bottle at the north end. Both front entry paths were 6 wide, both are located south of the south side of the hearth. The inner room of the Howland house is 24" x 8'6" with a cellar below, the ATPM house inner room is 25' 3" X 9' and the cellar begins in the south west corner of the house and extends north along the west wall. The stairs in both houses could have been put against the south wall of the chimney.

The Howland house is reconstructed as being two and one half stories high. The inner room is depicted as being almost a lean-to addition on the rear, with the angle of the roof being different than the main roof. There is no reason why the ATPM house would not have had a similar look and size. The floor plan of the house is also very similar to that of the Mott Farm house in its second phase of development when the house was 30' x 20' with a large hearth and staircase on the south side of the chimney (Davidson 1967:7). The Howland house reconstruction may represent a 1930s reconstruction of a Pilgrim house, while the Mott farm reconstruction is probably more realistic.

There was an addition made onto the original structure. This ell was 21" long and 16' 9" wide and was placed on the eastern side. At this time the fireplace was also enlarged and another cellar was placed below the ell's floor. This new cellar measured 9' 6" X 8' 9" and is of comparable size to the cellars at the Wellfleet tavern site at Wellfleet, Massachusetts (1675-1725) (Deetz 1974:5). This may also be the time when the brewing copper was added, since it does not appear to have been part of the original hearth set up. Who ever was living at the site appears to have plastered over the pine sheathing which was located on the walls in the main house. This would explain how Lombard found the impression of the wainscot on the plaster.

Lombards excavations allow the demise of the house to be examined as well. If the house burned, as he thought it did, then this would explain the amount of ash, charcoal and lime found in the western cellar. This would be especially true if the western portion burned first and the eastern portion was later torn down. Many of the artifacts which were in the house would have been left there after the fire was out. This would account for the burned and twisted ceramics, the recovery of the door key near the door and all of the ash in the cellar.

It also explains why the deposits in the two cellars are different. The eastern cellar and the central portion contain most of the material and much of it can be cross-mended. The western and larger cellar does not have as much material but does contain an ash, charcoal, brick and plaster layer at the very base which is the same as that found in the central portion and a little in the eastern cellar. What may have happened during the dismantling of the house is the following: the eastern portion which did not burn was removed first and all of the older material which was no longer wanted was thrown away into the open cellar hole, then the main portion of the house was taken down and more material was thrown away creating deposits like the one found just to the north of the western hearth. The chimney and hearth were removed and as a result not as much brick was found in the eastern cellar, but more was found in the western Then the floor above the western cellar was removed and ash and plaster and brick pieces fell into the open hole and material was possibly even brought in to fill the hole, creating thick deposits of ash piled up in areas of the cellar and the central portion.

The walls of the cellars and the foundation stones were eventually pushed into the holes and in the western cellar this was mixed with shellfish remains which were either brought in or were part of the deposit found just outside of the northern wall. Eventually the ground was naturally built up and the area was used as a field and pasture, until the nineteenth century when it was related to the Pilgrims and their trading post in the area.